Workers' Compensation

Iowa: Psychiatrist’s Reopening Petition Based Upon Alleged “New” Mental Disorder Denied

An Iowa appellate court affirmed the denial of a psychiatrist’s petition to reopen his prior workers' compensation settlement agreement in which he alleged that he had developed a mental disorder as a result of his original injuries and that such disorder amounted to a change in medical condition. The appellate court found that substantial evidence supported the Commissioner’s finding—affirmed by the district court—that the psychiatrist had failed to establish his mental disorder was caused by his earlier work injury and that even if he had demonstrated his psychosis was related to the work injury, the doctor’s claim was barred by res judicata. The psychiatrist sustained injuries when his cane became stuck in the carpet of the mental health center where he worked, causing him to trip and fall forward, hitting his head. In November 2012, the doctor and the employer entered into a settlement agreement for workers' compensation benefits that was approved by the workers' compensation commissioner. The agreement stated the doctor had sustained a “permanent partial disability for 50% loss of BAW/earning capacity . . . resulting in 250 weeks of compensation ….” Approximately one year later, the doctor voluntarily admitted himself to a hospital “for protection from harm to himself and others.” The admission notes indicated, inter alia, the doctor had struggled with extreme paranoia for several years. The appellate court also noted that the doctor attempted suicide shortly after his 2009 injury but hid that fact from medical personnel. The court agreed that the doctor had failed to show a causal connection between the injury and his mental condition but noted further that the reopening petition could not be used to relitigate the claim. His mental issue claim had been subsumed within his original settlement.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law(LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Brinck v. Siouxland Mental Health Ctr., 2018 Iowa App. LEXIS 776(Sept. 12, 2018)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 131.03.

Source:Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law